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Scared Straight! (1978)

Peter Falk , Doug Cronin , Arnold Shapiro  |  NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Scared Straight! + Beyond Scared Straight, Season 1 (2 Discs)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Falk, Doug Cronin
  • Directors: Arnold Shapiro
  • Writers: Arnold Shapiro
  • Producers: Arnold Shapiro, Robert Levi
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: August 26, 2003
  • Run Time: 52 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009Y3V5
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,227 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Scared Straight!" on IMDb

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Their crimes included assault and battery, arson, auto theft, breaking and entering, and possession and distribution of narcotics. Although they were still minors, these juvenile delinquents were already on a one-way path to doing hard time. Hosted by Peter Falk (Columbo), the Oscar and Emmy award-winning SCARED STRAIGHT! recounts the day seventeen teenage lawbreakers spent inside the Rahway maximum security prison with the most dangerous criminals New Jersey had to offer. Calling themselves "the Lifers," these convicts gave the youths an in-your-face, no-holds-barred account about life in prison, sharing every ugly detail. Without a doubt, the teenagers’ experience that day changed the course of their lives forever. Now, for the first time on DVD, audiences can revisit SCARED STRAIGHT!, and see the lasting effects of the teenagers and convicts’ encounter in Scared Straight! 20 Years Later, hosted by Danny Glover. The day documented in SCARED STRAIGHT! was unforgettable--the question is, did it work? DVD Features: Scared Straight! 20 Years Later Hosted by Danny Glover; Filmmaker Biography; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection

Product Description

Their crimes included assault and battery, arson, auto theft, breaking and entering, and possession and distribution of narcotics. Although they were still minors, these juvenile delinquents were already on a one-way path to doing hard time.

Hosted by Pe

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars required viewing October 20, 2003
A film by Arnold Shapiro
Peter Falk narrates this documentary about criminally inclined youths visiting a prison and getting to talk to actual inmates who are trying to scare them straight. It is the Rahway State Prison in New Jersey. The year is 1978. It is called the "lifers program". The inmates get no special compensation for participating in the program, but they hope that this program will help keep some kids out of prison. 17 teenagers are sent to the program, it was a sort of a last stop for these kids before prison. These aren't good kids, they have committed theft, arson, armed robbery, assault, and more. The inmates are some of the worst convicts in the prison system, nasty men who have done nasty crimes.
Scared Straight is an uncensored look at this session in the prison. The inmates come in and they each take turns talking of their experiences, but rather than just a dry account of their prison time (and how they got there) this is highly emotional. The inmates yell at the kids, curse at them, and explicitly tell them exactly what will happen to them if they end up in prison and exactly what the prison culture is like. It is violent, always threatening, and every day is a risk of being the prisoner's last. The inmates gave every possible detail, more than you might want to know but everything you would need to know. Going to prison may seem like a game, a short easy ride, but these convicts set you straight. Some of the kids appeared to be near tears and visible intimidated by the convicts. The inmates explained what being intimidated would get them in prison, too.
This was a powerful documentary. It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary and it should be required viewing for any kid who starts getting in trouble with the law.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required viewing September 4, 2003
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
In 1978, a program was started by inmates of Rahway maximum-security prison in New Jersey where a small group of juvenile delinquents were brought into the prison to meet with inmates. The inmates who created the program get no special treatment, no rewards for participating in the program, as the goal is to try and give something back, to try and save a life before it's too late.
Now keep in mind, these teens, ages ranging from 15 to 17, were some of the worst of the worst, their crimes ranging from arson, breaking and entering, theft, grand theft auto, assault, etc. The goal was to show these teens the consequences of a life of crime, the harshness of the prison system, a glimpse into the reality of where they where headed.
The documentary, hosted by Peter Falk, starts out by interviewing the teens prior to their entry into the prison. These kids are extremely cocky, and it would be funny if it weren't so sad. They talk tough, act tough, and seem to have very little regard for their actions. On entering the prison, they are processed, just like any other convicted felon, and lead to cells where they spent and hour before their two-hour meeting with a select group of prisoners. To these kids, this was just an opportunity to get out of school for a day, but it became so much more.
The prisoners berated the youths in an effort to show them that the kids weren't as tough as they thought they were, and also gave them a real good look into what prison life is really like. Some of the kids seemed to the point of tears, and all seemed frightened and very shaken. Some prisoners recounted harsh experiences within the prison, while others let the kids know exactly what would happen to them if and when they ever entered the prison system.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a classic July 10, 2007
By Haseeb
I didn't see this the first time it was aired on TV in 1978, but I do remember seeing a preview and pictures from it. Even so, it had a lasting impression on me. I always remembered seeing a light-complexioned African-American man with the mostashe who had one eye (Ali). I remember seeing the veins in his neck bulge out and remember him as someone who was very angry and someone you did not want to mess with. Recently, I've watched this documentary for the first time and was impressed.

The most fascinating aspect of this video is the follow up after 20 years, but they also did a follow up with some of them after 10 years as well. Did the Scared Straight program work? According to the people who run the program, it worked very well. Out of all of the kids in the program, only one of them became a convict in a maxium security prison, but quite a few of them have had run ins with the law and served lesser sentences in county jails. In my opinion, I don't know if the Lifers Programs does all that much good because how do you know the kids wouldn't have wound up being not too different from the way they became anyway had they not participated in the lifers program?

Out of all of the convicts in Scared Straight, only two managed to turn their lives around, the rest either died or were still incarcerated at the time of the film. The most memorable man of the film (Ali) who none who were in the program will ever forget was the last subject interviewed in this film. Did he manage to turn his life around or is he still incarcerated? You'll have to watch this to find out.

I highly recommend this documentary. I do not believe however that one can get scared into changing their life around completely. The fundamental core of who a person is will always be there regardless of how much people scare him. Real change must come from within.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars So laid back but smart as a tack
Bought this for my teen-age grandson. I was always a fan of Peter Falk and watched every TV segment of his series I could. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Beverly C. Shoemaker
5.0 out of 5 stars The original scared straight video
This is the original plus a follow-up with the original players. This is the best and first scared straight. I like it.
Published 3 months ago by James S. Ellis
5.0 out of 5 stars AWESOME MOVIE
The best movie I saw when I was a teenager & scared me bigitmes & never been in jail & will NOT got there ever best movie for your youung teens to see & hope scares them as it is... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Brian
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the viewing!
The original SS was a groundbreaking documentary in which a group of juvenile delinquents from the NY/NJ area were sent to maximum-security Rahway State Prison for a 3-hour... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Chuck Donegan
5.0 out of 5 stars Scared Straight
This is an excellent DVD. I remember watching this video years ago. It was great seeing it again along with the 20 years after segment when the teenagers are all grown up and some... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Rudy
1.0 out of 5 stars Proven to be harmful - increases kids chances to end up in prison.
This program was an utter failure. Peer reviewed research shows this program to increase likelihood of kids ending up in prison. Read more
Published on August 22, 2011 by Philbert Katz
5.0 out of 5 stars Use for my Juvenile Justice Class
I reach a class in Juvenile Justice at UTSA (University of Texas at San Antonio) and I use this video as part of our 'corrections' lesson. Read more
Published on August 6, 2011 by R. Welch
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful documentary
This is a documentary I would recommend every young person watch. It has some very explicit language and sexual references so you would want to consider the age of the viewer. Read more
Published on July 23, 2010 by Liz Swenson
4.0 out of 5 stars When the prison doors are opened, the real dragon will fly out. - Ho...
As Ho Chi Minh tells us, prison doesn't seem to reform anyone. The challenge, then, becomes how to prevent people from becoming prisoners in the first place. Read more
Published on July 2, 2010 by stoic
3.0 out of 5 stars Scared Straight!(1978)
Saw it couple years ago, we need not just stuff like this but more stiffer sentences and less recreation in prisons to make sure convicts aren't living in a club fed.
Published on June 24, 2010 by Jose Lopez
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